By Brett White

It’s a reunion of epic—and possibly catastrophic—proportions as Cable once again saddles up with the team he created, X-Force!

Cable and X-Force #1 cover by Salvador Larroca

Since 1991, X-Force has been synonymous with proactive missions, rebellious mutant action, and pouches; lots of pouches. But when Cable slipped below radar after 2008’s “Messiah Complex,” the X-Force crew took on a new leader—Wolverine—a new mission—ruthless kill squad—and a new style—bye-bye pouches, hello bone-sawing knives. Now, after years spent apart, the former mutant messiah must get the band back together for one last job. Nothing will go wrong, right?

Writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Salvador Larroca aim to show readers just how wrong everything will go.

How wrong? So wrong that they’ll be labeled as terrorists. So wrong that Marvel’s new premier super-team, the Uncanny Avengers, will be hot on their heels.

Hopeless spoke to about the impending mutant mayhem, so cozy up to your warmest laser blaster and read on. What is your prior experience with Cable and X-Force? Were you a fan 20 years ago, or have you been doing a lot of research recently?

Dennis Hopeless: 20 years ago I was 11 and thought Cable was awesome. I think I had most if not all of the 6,000 Cable action figure variants they made. Sadly, Cable and I parted ways at puberty—mine, not his—and I never looked back. So there has been plenty of research. It’s actually a lot of fun going back and reading what a character has been up to since you quit paying attention. Both Cable and X-Force are thoroughly 90’s characters, and I mean that in a very positive way. There seems to be a lot of nostalgia going around in the industry for that time period. Does your series play into that nostalgia at all?

Dennis Hopeless: I think you’ll take one look at the costume designs and see that the answer is “Yes.” We’re stealing everything that was fun and exciting about that over-the-top 90’s X-FORCE and bolting it onto modern characterization and storytelling. Our X-Force is giant guns, insane action, badass badasses and three-dimensional characters with human emotions!

Cable vs. the Avengers Was this a roster you pitched and, if so, what type of team were you hoping to create?

Dennis Hopeless: I see CABLE AND X-FORCE as a crime book. In my favorite crime stories, the characters are always at each other’s throats. This X-Force needed to be like that, a team of specialists who work well together but don’t always like each other. We tried to pick big personalities who were likely to clash in high stress situations. There are characters I wanted and didn’t get but I’m pretty thrilled with the final roster. It’s a powder keg. Where did the idea for this series come from?

Dennis Hopeless: I started with Cable. It was important to make Cable the cornerstone of the book. I wanted to do that without regressing the character back to an early version or forcing him into some out-of-character role just because it would be fun to write that kind of book. So I took a look at who Cable is right here and now. He’s an aging fighter who has been through 100 kinds of hell and still feels every scar. He’s a father who, for good or ill, has been forced to let his daughter go. He’s a presumed-dead outlaw currently best known for trying to kill Earth’s Mightiest Heroes [in the AVENGERS: X-SANCTION limited series by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness]. He’s exhausted.

Looking at Cable that way made it all kind of fall into place. This is a guy ready to pack it in. But maybe he can’t. Maybe he has to pull off the Cable version of one last score.  He has to save the world against all odds one final time and then he can retire into the sunset. Of course, that “one last score” job never goes as planned.

Domino Cable has made quite a few allies over the years, most notably the members of his X-Force and the supporting characters of his long-running ongoing series. How many of those allies will we be seeing?

Dennis Hopeless: I think by the time the final team is set, we end up with a good mix of classic X-FORCE characters, old Cable allies and outside the box characters [that] just make sense on this new version of the team. We won’t see everyone in this first arc. There’s one classic X-Forcer I’m very excited about who shows up later to round out the cast. Is this team Cable’s main priority, or will he be gallivanting across the time-stream on his own adventures as well?

Dennis Hopeless: At the beginning of the book, the last thing Cable wants is to lead a new X-Force. He’s beat up, tired and thinking seriously about full-on retirement. Unfortunately for the Askani’son, once things get rolling he doesn’t have much choice but to make X-Force the priority. He won’t have time for any solo gallivanting. As for the other members of the team, is X-Force their main priority? Are these characters going to be popping up in other team books, or will their status as an X-Forcer keep them solely on this book?

Dennis Hopeless: That was one of the challenges when we were picking the cast. If we want to commit to the idea of most wanted fugitives, the characters can’t split their time between multiple teams. Captain America doesn’t play well with criminals. The upside is we can do horrible things to them without screwing up another book’s story.

Colossus Cable has been everything from a gun-toting drill sergeant to a stalwart X-Man to a mutant messiah, and even a protective father. X-Force transitioned from the New Mutants, to a paramilitary outfit, to junior X-Men, to road-tripping 20-somethings and, lately, to a Wolverine-led black ops squad. Which versions of these characters are you drawing on for this series?

Dennis Hopeless: My Cable is equal parts Steve McQueen, Mad Max and The Terminator. He doesn’t want to sit and talk. He’s too busy to explain the plan to you. He wants you to do your job and stay out of his way.

The X-Force he’s leading is a group of outlaws trying to save the world.  They’re fugitives being chased across the globe and doing what good they can while always looking back over their shoulders. There’s not much room for error on this team. Cable hasn’t been involved with X-Force since Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza’s 2004 limited series. Do these characters have to learn how to work with each other again?

Dennis Hopeless: Oh yeah. At least one part of this situation is uncharted territory for every character. Nobody is comfortable being on this X-Force team. What type of story structure are you aiming for with this series and why does it work well to depict the adventures in CABLE AND X-FORCE?

Dennis Hopeless: There is a big story underneath it all but that’s sort of a slow boil. On the surface you have the team pulling a bunch of jobs, running all over the globe two steps ahead of authorities and dealing with the consequences.

Doctor Nemesis

I think it works because crime stories are about the job and the aftermath of the job, but character arcs are about change. So the more jobs we put these characters through, the more we can twist them into new shapes. Twist hard enough and you’ll get some really interesting character change. Your previous work for Marvel was another team book in the X-Men Universe, X-MEN: SEASON ONE. How does this team book compare to that one?

Dennis Hopeless: SEASON ONE was all about strangers with a common secret becoming a family. This X-Force isn’t a family. It’s a crew. They’ll obviously build personal relationships throughout the course. Some of them already have history. But on a job, relationships just complicate things. When you’re on the lam, those kinds of complications are problematic. In addition to big guns, the original X-FORCE series was about characters falling between the cracks and struggling for their place in the world. Does that other theme have a place in this series?

Dennis Hopeless: Definitely. None of the characters we’re using really fit the traditional X-Men mold at this point. Some of them used to. Some of them never really have. They’ll all fit really well into this new definition of X-Force. But that’s not immediately going to be a source of pride. This X-Force gets no glory. Talk about being feared and hated. The world, including the Marvel super hero community, thinks Cable and his X-Force are terrorists. All sorts of interesting things happen when people feel like the whole world is against them; great things and terrible things.

Forge Can you give us any hints as to who Cable and X-Force will be coming up against?

Dennis Hopeless: Cable’s X-Force has to stay on the move. They’re fugitives. This means crossing in and out of lots of different jurisdictions. And remember, we aren’t limited to villains. They’ll be fighting heroes too. I think I’ll make you read the book to find which ones. One of the great comics of the early ’90s has to be X-FACTOR #84, wherein X-Factor is tasked with confronting and arresting X-Force after it appears that Cable has made an assassination attempt on Professor X. In CABLE AND X-FORCE, it seems like the Uncanny Avengers will be their main opposition, but will any other X-Teams come after them? How do the rest of the X-Men feel? Will there be any X-sympathy?

Dennis Hopeless: I’ll just say maybe, conflicted and yes.

We definitely want to deal with the repercussions of X-Force being wanted, but we’re still figuring out the story logistics of it. You’re working with Salvador Larroca on this book, who just completed an epic run with Matt Fraction on INVINCIBLE IRON MAN. Was it daunting being the first writer Salvador has worked with after spending so much time with Matt Fraction?

Dennis Hopeless: Everything about this job was intimidating in some way. I love Matt and Salva’s work on IRON MAN. I’m a big fan of what Rick [Remender] and company have been up to on UNCANNY X-FORCE. And I’m well aware how seriously Cable fans take their guy. But [editor] Nick Lowe has been right there with a paper bag for me to hyperventilate into. It helps that I have a lot of confidence in the story we’re telling.

Invincible Iron Man by Salvador Larroca

Also, Salva’s a pro. He jumped right in and nailed everything from top to bottom. I knew we were going to mesh well when I saw his first character designs. He got the vibe I wanted and immediately started adding to it. Salvador Larroca has shown that he can handle any story thrown at him and he also isn’t afraid to change up his style. What is he bringing to CABLE AND X-FORCE?

Dennis Hopeless: When I told Matt I was going to be working with Salva after him, the advice he gave me was “Let him design stuff. He’s great at it.” He was dead on and I’ve been doing that as much as possible.

One of our cast members allows me to put a lot of tech into the book. Iron Man readers already know this, but Salva draws the [expletive] out of robots, guns and machines. X-Force gear isn’t sexy and stylish like Stark Tech. It’s big, bad and heavy-looking.

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